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Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2013 May;68(5):579-85. doi: 10.6061/clinics/2013(05)01.

Modulatory effect of BclI GR gene polymorphisms on the obesity phenotype in Brazilian patients with Cushing's disease.

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Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de São PauloUnidade de Suprarrenal, Laboratório de Hormônios e Genética Molecular LIM/42, São PauloSP, Brazil.



Patients with Cushing's disease exhibit wide phenotypic variability in the severity of obesity, diabetes and hypertension. In the general population, several glucocorticoid receptor genes (NR3C1) and HSD11B1 polymorphisms are associated with altered glucocorticoid sensitivity and/or metabolism, resulting in an increased or reduced risk of an adverse metabolic profile. Our aim was to analyze the association of NR3C1 and HSD11B1 gene variants with the severity of some clinical and hormonal features of Cushing's disease.


Sixty-four patients presenting with Cushing's disease were diagnosed based on adrenocorticotrophic hormone levels, high-dose dexamethasone suppression tests and/or inferior petrosal sinus sampling and magnetic resonance imaging. The A3669G, ER22/23EK, N363S BclI-NR3C1 and HSD11B1-rs12086634 variants were screened.


The BclI, HSD11B1-rs12086634 and A3669G variants were found in 36%, 19.5% and 14% of alleles, respectively. The N363S and ER22/23EK polymorphisms were identified in heterozygosis once in only two patients (1.5% of alleles). There were no differences in the weight gain or prevalence of diabetes and hypertension in the patients carrying the abovementioned alleles compared to the wild-type carriers. Interestingly, the mean body mass index (BMI) of the BclI carriers was significantly higher than the non-carriers (34.4±7 kg/m2 vs. 29.6±4.7 kg/m2, respectively). None of the polymorphisms were associated with the basal adrenocorticotrophic hormone, FU levels or F level after dexamethasone suppression testing.


Although Cushing's disease results from increased glucocorticoid secretion, we observed that interindividual variability in the peripheral glucocorticoid sensitivity, mediated by the glucocorticoid receptor, could modulate the obesity phenotype.

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